Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma. Pictures: JACKIE CLAUSEN
Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma. Pictures: JACKIE CLAUSEN

I’ve never met former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste but I’ve never heard anything remotely flattering about him either. He’s not a patron of the arts, he appears to be an awful writer and, judging by his annual report addresses, he seems to have aped presentation skills from a certain Mervyn Dirks of Barney’s Bar in Parliament.

Unluckily for him, we do not live in some Victorian age where a vast ownership of horses is automatic qualification for the title of gentleman. The shadow of Jooste will trap within it on Friday those who dare to dispute the meaningless terms "white monopoly capital" and "radical economic transformation". Bathabile Dlamini, Nomvula Makonyane, Collen Maine and other members of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s axis of scoundrels will hype the losses of the Public Investment Corporation in Steinhoff as though this corporate scandal was an orchestrated wave of racist oppression.

Supra Mahumapelo and Ace Magashule, who live and rule with the sadism of Bulgarian gypsy kings, will thrust every single white South African man into Jooste’s profile, then couple this to Cyril Ramaphosa’s supporters — and if that fails to convince — throw chairs. You can almost hear the dreadful Jessie Duarte squealing with delight. The shock at Steinhoff’s collapse is bewildering.

Institutional corporate financiers, supported by their desk-sucking analysts and, ahem, "risk matrixes", are willing to overlook infractions, or conceal them with mathematical trickery, on the basis of their investment’s potential — or reputation.

Because of Jooste’s reputation as a deal maker, for every transgression there was the prospect of miraculous recovery and a honey stroke that would see a deal vomiting cash real quick. But if you’re still shocked, and want to know why this happens, just look at Parliament: there you have a public enterprise portfolio committee "hearing" on "corporate governance" at Eskom, where clear evidence of wrongdoing is leading to the door of the president.

The Germans don’t do it like this: on the basis that their investigations into Steinhoff reveals malfeasance, they will prosecute in a commercial crimes court, and people will probably go to jail. But in SA, there is no reason to fear — the corrupt shrug, the financiers whisper in corridors and these awkward moments will pass just as long as everyone burns their copy of Lance Armstrong’s autobiography on the sly. "Oopsy".

This poor country. So many millions of decent lives have been throttled by the legacy and the advance of both white and black avarice, then more, subjected to these now constant, embarrassing encounters in the media where advocates from both groups claim to be the better of the two, like idiots arguing at a traffic robot about whether the Dros chain is worse than the Cubana one or visa versa.

Onto the stage this weekend strides the enemy of the law — a man who delights as easily in his toxic masculinity as he does in his own innumeracy — in the words he makes up and the lies he tells in Parliament, and in his shameless and unrepentant behaviour toward women.

But when the shadow of Jooste is acknowledged in shrieking accusations by his supporters, remember he has always sought to occupy it — when you see President Jacob Zuma on Friday, you are actually looking at Gary Poritt, Dave King, Barry Tannenbaum and Rael Levitt.

Because all he has ever done in his presidency is attempt to absorb the worst of white greed and excess — and its material extensions — into himself, his friends and family, then disguise the blending of it with provisional interpretations (perversion) of history-cum-identity politics. As leader, that is all he ever wanted to do.

• Reader works for an energy investment and political advisory firm.

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